Friday, October 3, 2014

Let's Take This One At A Time

I want to just say, before I get into this, that the only two IST's  I am is artIST and humanIST.  I believe I have no other IST in me, or I should say - I want to believe I have no other IST in me. 

I believe that what separates us biologically will become invisible one day in the future.  Already it is happening.  Gender becomes more meaningless as the biologically male or female individual feels more free to be "the self" and, while this "self" may be categorized as behaviorally "female" or behaviorally "male" - (still we use gender terms to describe aspects and energy of spirit...which is so very limiting in an of itself) we will all feel accepted as who we are not as what we look like. 

Skin color is a difference that is becoming less of a negative difference...culture...religion...weight ranking - I believe these are separations among our human family that will not exist one day.  I think the glaciers are melting faster than this is happening so I don't expect this to happen any time soon.  Not in my life time.  But I believe - one day - if we manage to survive our own noose...

Oh - what is my point?  Let's just say that, since I brought up the feminist movement in art yesterday by mentioning the !Women Art Revolution movie, that I do not know that bringing attention to differences is the way to overcome them.  But - perhaps that is how it must start. 

Maybe in the beginning, the group getting overlooked and undervalued by another segment of people - because of their differences - must galvanize somehow and say: - "HEY!  Deal with us.  In all the ways that matter we are really the same." 

In the case of women artists - this movement was saying (among other things) - that women are just as capable of creating great art as men and that contribution is worthy of recognition.   So I feel that it is important to explore these artists one at a time.

Today is Judy Chicago day and last July she turned 75 years young.  What I'd like to say myself about Judy, that I very much admire, is that in the early years of her life she said that when we all grow up there will be no labels...she even changed her last name eventually because she didn't want it associated with a man, be it her father or husband. 

She then became part of the feminist art movement and created what is considered today to be her masterpiece, The Dinner Party. 
The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago © Judy Chicago is an icon of feminist art,
which represents 1,038 women in history—39 women are represented
by place settings and another 999 names are inscribed in the
Heritage Floor on which the table rests. This monumental work of art
is comprised of a triangular table divided by three wings, each 48 feet long.
She honors the feminine in her next work, the Birth Project.  This from Wikipedia:
From 1980 until 1985, Chicago created The Birth Project. The piece used images of childbirth to celebrate woman's role as mother. The installation reinterpreted the Genesis creation narrative, which focused on the idea that a male god created a male human, Adam, without the involvement of a woman.  Chicago described the piece as revealing a "primordial female self hidden among the recesses of my soul...the birthing woman is part of the dawn of creation." 150 needle workers from the United States, Canada and New Zealand assisted in the project, working on 100 panels, by quilting, macramé, embroidery and other techniques. The size of the piece means it is rarely displayed in its entirety. The majority of the pieces from The Birth Project are held in the collection of the Albuquerque Museum.
The Creation, from Birth Project-Installation MAD Museum
© Judy Chicago, 1984, Modified Aubusson Tapestry,
42" x 14', Weaving by Audrey Cowan,
Collection: Bob & Audrey Cowan, Santa Monica, CA
While Judy was finishing The Birth Project she started to create a series of monumental works (the largest work is 9' x 22') called Powerplay because she wanted to explore masculinity and re-cast the heroic in a new way.   Specifically exploring, as she herself says in the KUNM interview with Megan Kamerick (for the 2012 Reviewing Powerplay exhibit - shown in Santa Fe at the David Richard Gallery after having not been shown, in its entirety, since 1986) "the way the construct of masculinity affects men."  In the interview, Kamerick says that this body of work seems to be "focusing on men struggling with the feminine within even trying to kill it at times" Chicago's response was:
I think through 'making art' - so I think a lot about my experiences with men and how men act.  And I was able to think my way into an understanding of why they act that way.  So, for an example, there's a painting called Three Faces of Man and there are two public faces on the outside - an angry face and a jocular face - and then in the center, there is the weeping face, the private face.  You know, I started thinking about what it
© Judy Chicago - Three Faces of Man
would be like to be raised not to be able to cry.  What that would do to you?  How much despair you would swallow, internalize?  Internalized despair could easily turn into rage or aggression.  For women it's the opposite - anger turns into depression because it's so unacceptable for women - still - to express anger.  But for men it's the opposite.  It's so unacceptable for them to express weakness, vulnerability.  So 'emotion' has been projected onto the female.  It's the woman who acts out - who expresses.  The stalwart man, the strong silent type...that is a construct that men have been trapped in as women have been trapped in a comparable construct of femininity and what we're 'supposed to be.'  . . . . I think I started out pissed off, you know, I had a lot of really negative experiences with men.  I couldn't stand how men acted in the world . . . . I worked on Powerplay from 1982-1987 and I did think my way out from anger and into empathy.
Ah.  That's some of the magic of art for both the creator and the audience.  A broadening of perspective.

Visit Judy Chicago's website to learn more about this remarkable artist.  Tomorrow I think we'll talk about Miriam Schapiro.

'Til then!


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